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Psalms 42/43 (really one psalm) is one of my five favorite psalms, a psalm I often pray, and a psalm I prayed repeatedly after my husband died. God knows we will each face desperate times and so He has given this psalm to teach us how to hold on to our Rock.

This psalm begins Book II of the psalms, and is the first of the psalms of the sons of Korah. Because I so love this psalm we’ve been here before, but God’s Word is living, so it will be fresh for the world we live in this very day.

Let’s go!


1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study


We often think of the praise song “As The Deer,” when we read this psalm, but so often that song is sung gently, and not with the true DESPERATION the psalmist is feeling. Rather than a deer drinking from the water, this psalm shows a hunted deer, desperate for water, and finding the river bed dry. That is how we feel at times, and so we CRY CRY CRY to God to come to us. For that reason I’ve chosen a different song to prepare your heart by Matt Maher and Audrey Assad, that echoes the desperate cries of Psalm 42/43. The lyrics are below so you can sing along once you catch the melody.


Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You

The psalms are poetic songs, filled with word pictures meant to penetrate the heart.

2. As an overview, take these opening two poetic word pictures of water, and see if you can discover the deeper meaning or emotion that it conveys. It might help to read the words aloud.

A. Psalm 42:1-2 

B. Psalm 42:3-4 (And also, describe how this is a “lament,” for those of you who are familiar with the “lament.”)

3. Now describe the repeated refrain of Psalm 42/43. Find it in verses 42:5; 42:11 and 43:5. To whom is the psalmist speaking and why?


Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a theologian and medical doctor, said when we are desperate, depressed, or upset we must not listen to our souls but to speak the truth to our souls. His book is one of my favorites.

spiritual depressionThis must become our habit. Whatever our concern, we must bring it to God, and then instead of listening to our souls, speak to our souls. I’m going to give you a personal example from my life right now, contrasting listening to my soul with speaking to my soul. I’m in a sweet season, so my concern is not DESPERATE, but the principle still must be practiced for any anxieties, of which each of us routinely have.

My Concern: My tried and true editor has asked for major changes in my manuscript on The Song of Songs, feeling I am over the heads of most of my readers. I so want women to grasp Christ in the Song and this requires much re-writing and time. But, between now and Labor Day my home will always have guests and I want to be a good hostess, mother, and grandmother.

Listening to my soul: I can’t do it all. I will slight my children or guests or slight the manuscript. I can’t do it. I will fail. The book I’ve worked on for four years will not be the best or my children or guests will be hurt.

Speaking to my soul: Listen, soul. The Lord is with you. He will give you the time you need to do the manuscript well. He will provide wisdom and times free of distraction. He will also provide strength and grace and love for your guests. He has always been faithful and He will continue.

4. Your turn:

Your Concern:

Listening to your soul:

Speaking to your soul:



5. Read Psalm 42:7 — there are two famous water images here. See if you can find them both.

6. There is both a negative and a positive images in “all your waves and breakers have gone over me.” The initial one is negative, but how can you see the positive in verse 8?


We have talked before on this blog on how sorrow can actually produce joy, revealing what is most important. That may be part of verse 8, but I also think that within terrible sorrow. you can catch glimpses of God’s love. I think of how when my husband was dying, he came out of his coma at the last second, opened his eyes, and mouthed “I love you.” That was God sending a wave of love over me in the midst of sorrow. That was “deep calling to deep,” or as Spurgeon says, “the deep voice of God speaking deep into my soul.”


7. Read Psalm 42:9-11 and find Christ in this psalm.

8. The lament and the refrain continues in Psalm 43, but now, with more strength and faith. Find evidence of that.

9. Does knowing the history of the Sons of Korah add any insight to these psalms? If so, share.

Sing along with this hymn, strengthening your soul:


Thursday-Friday: Messages

You have a choice of two AMAZING messages. If you have never heard Tim Keller’s classic and free sermon on Psalm 42,  choose that. It is free. Yet how I loved Mindy Belz’ talk on the persecuted church at the Women’s Gospel Coalition. Choose one (or both) and share your thoughts and notes.

Finding God

Standing Beside the Persecuted

10. Thoughts and/or notes on message.


11. What is your take-a-way and why?


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  1. 6.  There is both a negative and a positive image in “all your waves and breakers have gone over me”.  The initial one is negative, but how can you see the positive in verse 8?  
    The New Living Translation drew out some things for me here:  “But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.”  Just this simple thought that, it is the LORD who is pouring waves upon me….and waves of adversity may well be and ARE his waves of unfailing love!  As Lizzy has so well said “….I do not have to wait for the waves to pass, to be comforted, to be at peace, because He holds me in them…..”   Again from the NLT, a little bit different perspective….from Isaiah 43:2 – “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  ….”  “I will be with you……you will not drown….”   He keeps His promises.  

  2. 7.  Read Psalm 42:9-11 and find Christ in this psalm.
    I see Jesus in the garden of Gesthemane…..”My soul is very sorrowful, even to death….” He prays.  Though the arrest, the trial, the mocking of the Roman soldiers…oh and the robbers, those passing by, the religious leaders as He was crucified…”He saved others; he cannot save himself” ,  “let him come down now from the cross”, “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him..”.  (from Matthew 27:27-50).  And HIs cry from the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”.   And yet….the victory He knew He was winning!  To the repentant thief He says “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”…..and when he yielded up HIs spirit….”Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.  Verse 11 ends with the triumphant “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  And in Jesus’ last words from the cross we surely see the Triumph, the HOPE!!  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do….”  and “It is finished”.  Amen.

  3. 8.  The lament and the refrain continues in Psalm 43, but now, with more strength and faith.  Find evidences of that.
    I find v. 2 so intriguing and instructive, for even as the the Psalmist affirms with great faith that “For you are the God in whom I take refuge;…” he continues right on with the questions “why have you rejected me? why do I go about mourning? (why does the enemy still oppress me??)”.  I am SO comforted at this point to be reminded that great faith WILL often coexist with great pain and suffering!  And it is ok to feel the hurt deeply…..while affirming the Rock of our Salvation!  
    v. 3 is powerful medicine.  “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling”.  Light and Truth are almost personified here as guides.  What an affirmation of the power of our God to reach down into our “ordinary sorrows” and be to us a personal guide through the wilderness!  And where does our yearning heart desire to “get to”?  To HIM!  Oh, how this takes me back to David’s cries in Psalm 27….”The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”  and then…..”One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”  I LONG for this to be my own “one thing”.  

    1. Oh yes Jackie.  Loved the way you said this…”I am so comforted at this point to be reminded that great fairh will often coexist with great pain and suffering.”

  4. Thank you all for your comments this week. I am grateful for each of them. I was delayed in getting to this study this week. But God led me to Psalm 42 separately in response to a day this week when I was in a fit of despair and anxiety. There I was at my workdesk reading God’s truth and having it wash over me in between phone calls and customer service issues. God used His word–as He does repeatedly to defeat what I was telling my soul.
    Psalm 42: Learning that the deer has been chased (hunted) and also being reminded of the Sons of Korah story has struck me this week. Oftentimes I feel that the enemy is hunting us down and in response, I yearn and seek after Him.
    In the past 3 years God has allowed a tremendous–seemingly overwhelming–amount of refining in my life. From the very beginning of these trials, He has shown me that my flesh and sin want to tell me certain things: to make me feel as though I’m in a desert land, to cause me to turn away from my Savior, etc. But in every situation God has taught me that what God says about Himself and also about me is what restores me and draws me back to His side. In every situation, no matter what my soul says, God’s Word speaks the truth that washes me clean (Ephesians 5:26). So the choice becomes this: Will I receive what my sin and flesh promise or will I receive what God promises? There have been times when even saying to myself, “put your trust in God” is not enough. The battle for Holy victory in that particular moment still rages. But if I read/quote God’s word and He says, I am trustworthy, trust me, and I submit to the truth of that for myself in the current battle, His truth reigns victorious, I am refined and become more and more like my Lord Jesus.–Ruth (who is now rejoicing that her Dad is standing before the throne–praying for several of you here who are dealing with similar losses).

  5. Mindy Belz’s message is life-giving.  How mustard seeds can move mountains.  How the the terrible persecution and suffering has drawn Christians to pull together, laying aside differences.